MEDFORD, Ore. (CN) – The Forest Service’s fire-protection plan for the Siskiyou Mountains violates three federal forest-management laws, increases logging in critical Northern Spotted Owl habitat and endangers the primary water source for the city of Ashland, an Ashland city councilman claims in Federal Court.
City Councilman Eric Navickas and Jay Lininger, an ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, object to the Forest Service’s plans to remove trees, maintain roads and build helicopter landing areas in the Ashland Creek watershed. Navickas says he is suing on his own behalf.
That would cause too much soil erosion into Ashland’s primary water source, Ashland Creek, according to their federal complaint.
The plan would downgrade nearly 1,300 acres of spotted owl nesting, roosting and foraging habitat to “dispersal-only” habitat, the lawsuit states.
Navickas and Lininger claim the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project violates the National Forest Management Act, by conflicting with local forest management plans; the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which calls for maintenance or restoration of old growth forests; and the National Environmental Policy Act, by neglecting to examine the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of its plan in a Final Environmental Impact Statement.
In 1970, the Forest Service designated 1,641 acres of the area to be left undisturbed, “to provide a baseline against which the effects of human activities can be measured,” according to the complaint.
The contested plan also calls for fire hazard mitigation work, which the plaintiffs ask the court to allow in the area between the forest and the city while the lawsuit is pending.
Navickas and Lininger are represented by Marianne Dugan and Sean Malone, both of Eugene, Ore.